TOKYO, March 9 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese government along with steel and aluminum associations on Friday described U.S. President Donald Trump's plans to slap hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports as "extremely regrettable", expressing fears of global trade disruption.
Hiroshige Seko, minister of economy, trade and industry, told a press briefing on the matter that the protectionist move could significantly unsettle worldwide trade.
"It is extremely regrettable. The measures will trigger confusion in the steel market not only in the United States but (also) in Asia," Seko said, adding, "We will study necessary responses within the framework of the World Trade Organization."
The Japan Iron and Steel Federation, meanwhile, remarked that the move could lead to trade reprisals and retaliation from other countries, a move economists believe could lead to an all-out, global trade war.
"The measures may create a negative chain reaction by other countries taking similar actions under similar pretenses," Kosei Shindo, the federation's chairman, said, adding the potential impact of the move would be looked into in great detail to ensure the policies based on the principles of free trade were being adhered to.
The Japan Aluminum Association, for its part, also blasted the U.S. move, describing it as "extremely regrettable" and "not in accordance with international trade rules."
The association went on to explain that, "Many of the aluminum materials procured by U.S. customers from Japan are difficult to obtain from or switch to other sources." From this point of view, the levies on imports restricting outflows from Japan would have a negative impact on the U.S.' own economy.
"We request that these trade restrictions be withdrawn," the industry body stated.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said earlier Friday that the United States' decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports could, in fact, affect economic relations between Japan and the U.S.
In a statement, Kono said the decision by the U.S. was "regrettable" and that the measure "will have a major influence on the economic and cooperative relations between the U.S. and Japan."
Kono went on to say that Japan will thoroughly investigate the possible impact the new tariffs will have on Japanese companies and how the tariffs will stand up to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
Following this, Kono said that Japan will consider how it will respond to the levies henceforth.
Japan's top government spokesman, meanwhile, said on Friday that Japan would continue to ask the United States to exempt it from U.S. President Donald Trump's newly-unveiled plan to impose 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent for aluminum.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press briefing on Friday that Japan's steel and aluminum exports posed no risk to U.S. national security and had helped boost industry and employment in the U.S..
Trump said that Mexico and Canada would be exempted from the tariffs and intimated that some of the U.S.' key allies may also be exempted.
But concerns are rife among economists that Trump's move could trigger a global trade war, with the European Union, for example, saying the single bloc will hike levies on U.S. imports by way of retaliation if Trump presses ahead with his tariff policy.
Other countries have voiced similar retaliatory measures.